298 THE DISCOVERY OF THE CHILD Written language does not need speech; its full power i& realized only when it is completely isolated from spoken language. In these last days (in 1909) whilst the present book was for the first time in the press, we reached, in the Children's Houses, full enjoyment of reading by means of the following game. I wrote on some sheets of paper long sentences describing actions which the children would have to carry out, for example: "Close the window shutters and go and open the entrance door; then wait a moment and put things back as they were at first." " Ask eight of your companions, politely to leave their places and stand in a line, in pairs, in the middle of the room; then make them march backwards and forwards on the points of their toes, very quietly, without making any noise." " Ask three of your oldest companions who sing very well to be kind enough to come to the middle of the room; group them in a row, and sing along with them any beautiful tune which you like." And so on. The children, directly I had finished writing, almost snatched the cards from my hand to read them, placing them to dry on their little tables. They read them by themselves, with the most intense attention, in the deepest silence. I asked them, " Do you under- stand? " " Yes, yes." " Then go and do it." With what admira- tion did I watch the children as they each chose an action and carried it out at once. Great activity, movement of a new kind came to life in the room. Some closed and then opened the shutters, some set their companions running, some made them sing, some went to write, some took objects from the sideboard. Surprise and curiosity provoked general silence, and the scene was filled with the most intense commotion. It seemed as if magic strength had gone out from me stimulating activity which had been unknown before: that magic was written language, the greatest triumph of civilization. How well the children understood the importance of it! When I left, they crowded round me with manifestations of gratitude and affection, saying: " Thank you, thank you for the lesson."